Volume 55 Number 34
                    Produced: Mon Aug  6  5:12:17 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Authorship of the Zohar
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Blame it on the schools
         [Carl Singer]
Harry Potter Killing Curse
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Kabbala and Halacha
         [Rabbi Meir Wise]
Off the Derech
         [Tzvi Stein]
Online Aruch Hashulchan for Hilchos Yom Tov
         [Dovi Jacobs]


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 08:47:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Authorship of the Zohar

In MJ 55:27, several people commented on this topic:

From: Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...>
>> Am I missing something here?
>> If I wrote a long book on string theory without having a full and
>> appropriate CV somehow attached, would any competent person read it? 
>Some might, and they'd then judge it by the usual criteria like
>plausability etc.
>But don't publish it under your name - claim it's an unkown manuscript
>by Einstein you just happened to find (even if it quotes several 1990s
>articles from both Nature and Reader's Digest, contains the occasional
>hip-hop slang word and allusions to The Simpsons, and string theory was
>developed decades after Einstein's death), and see if people still buy
>the story.

But in that case, why don't we (G-d forbid) apply the same logic to
dating the Torah itself? It refers to events that occurred centuries
after its putative date of writing (including the destruction of the
Jewish state and the dispersal of its inhabitants), and it uses
linguistic forms that are otherwise attested in the historical record
only much later, so clearly no one should "buy the story" that it was
written by Moshe.

We reject that reasoning, of course, because we know that the Torah was
dictated by G-d, to Whom past, present, and future are
identical. Granted that the Zohar, or indeed any work except for the
five Chumashim, are not on that level, but they still represent the word
of Hashem (filtered to different degrees through the human mind) and can
therefore legitimately refer to future events. That is the key
difference between them and your hypothetical "Einstein" manuscript.

It's also worth noting that a lot (perhaps all) of the arguments against
the authenticity of the Zohar as the work of Rashbi (such as the
anachronisms as regards names, historical info, and linguistic forms)
are hardly new; they have been the subject of a good deal of discussion,
pro and con, since R' Moshe de Leon's time. Some of the answers do
require us to go outside the purview of science (since Divine
inspiration, and indeed G-d's very existence, are not subject to
scientific proof), but that in itself doesn't make them any less valid,
so long as they are internally logically consistent. (Indeed, one of the
major works defending the Zohar's authenticity, Kadmus Sefer HaZohar,
was written by a prominent Lithuanian rav, R' David Luria - and
Lithuania then was the citadel of rigorous logical Torah methodology.)

From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
>The Real Old Time halachists, such as R'
>Yosef Karo, a well-known kabbalist, kept kabbalah out of their halachic

R' Yosef Karo, maybe: I find in the Shulchan Aruch a reference to a
practice "in accordance with kabbalah" one time (Orach Chaim 25:13). I
don't have his other halachic sefarim, Beis Yosef and Avkas Rochel, to
check (although Rema to Orach Chaim 182:2 cites from Beis Yosef another
practice "in accordance with kabbalah," and to Yoreh De'ah 376:4, "Beis
Yosef in the name of the Zohar").

However, the Rema himself - a contemporary of R' Karo - cites the Zohar,
or practices "in accordance with kabbalah," several more times. One of
these is a citation from the Agur, a 14th-century halachic work.

To be sure, these few examples are hardly comparable to the flood of
citations from the Zohar and the Arizal in later halachic compendia such
as Mishnah Berurah. It does go to show, though, that at least the Beis
Yosef and his contemporaries didn't see the need to, in the popular
phrase, "erect a wall of separation" between halachah and kabbalah.

Kol tuv,


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 08:03:09 -0400
Subject: Blame it on the schools

> On becoming less observant I would like to suggest that the fault lies
> in an area that most of the community would like to ignore. That area
> is the day schools.

> We take a false sense of comfort in sending our children to the day
> schools in the belief that the fact that these are "frum" day schools
> means that allthat goes on in there is fine and according to halakha.
> Anecdotal evidence points to two areas where the buzz in the street
> and around Shabbes lunch tables indicates that all is not fine in the
> day schools.

I believe the above is flawed in two areas:

1 - when the "output" from a school is not (as) observant or falls off
the derech -- we need also to look at the input.

2 - the school is only part of the system that brings our children to
maturity -- the HOME is still key.

I have a brief anecdote that has stuck in my craw for years (it happened
several years ago, but I still remember it.)  This anecdote reflects on
both of the above statements.

We were in a kosher "fast food" restaurant -- in walks a family ma & pa
& two sons. And they sit next to us.  All three males are wearing
yarmelkes, etc., Mom is wearing jean pants & hair uncovered (which is
her prerogative - to stay on topic.) They order subs and burgers, -- and
then they eat .... without getting up to wash. (The washing sink is
perhaps 10 feet away.)

It sticks, because I know of no heter for not washing in these
circumstances.  It was only on the ride home that I realized that they
hadn't washed (something was wrong with this picture - as they say.) --
at first it puzzled me.  And if we relate this to school, I am sure that
the school is overrun with washing cups.

There are children from all sorts of family backgrounds and
circumstances going to all sorts of day schools for all sorts of reasons
(including Grandma & Grandpa are paying tuition to bribe the parents to
NOT send their kids elsewhere.)

Blame society, blame the parents, blame the environment -- and consider
the day school as only one cog in the wheel.  I once heard a Rabbi
speaking at one of his sons weddings modestly talking about the midos
his son had acquired "growing up in his mother's home." (rather than
saying "My home") -- the buck stops here.

Carl Singer


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 03:30:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Harry Potter Killing Curse

>> Actually, the killing curse in Harry Potter is "Avada Kedavra"; in
>>Aramaic "avada" is "to make", and I suspect Ms. Rowling knew that.

> I saw it differently: I thought of "avada" with an Aleph, and saw it  as
> a parallel to "Abara-cadabra",(I will create using words) meaning, "I
> will cause to be lost, destroyed, using words".

But then it should have been "abeda kedabra"


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Wise)
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 11:59:09 EDT
Subject: Re: Kabbala and Halacha

In response to Jonathan Baker "the real old-time kabbalists kept kabbala
out of their halachic works". Sorry Jonathan - not always. How do you
understand R. Yosef's Karo's ruling in the Shulchan Arukh (disputed by
the ashkenazi and yemenite achronim for this very reason) that if you
said Melech Ohen Zedaka uMishpot during the 10 days of repentance you
have to go back and repeat the blessing concluding Hamelech Hamishpot!!!
His position can only be understood as based on the kabbala as can
several other of his rulings. However it is erev shabbat and I cannot go
into them all.

kol tuv
Rabbi Meir Wise, London


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 11:42:25 -0400
Subject: Re: Off the Derech

> From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...> >
> More generally speaking, why do modern Orthodox / dati leumi Jews
> become less observant? Is this happening more in Israel - where many
> dati leumi live in closed/insular communities and the freedom they
> experience once they leave home is too much a temptation?

You should definitely check out the book "Off the Derech" (
http://www.offthederech.com/ ).  It goes deeply into this question, but
includes heredi Jews as well.

The author's main point is that it has very little to do with
"temptations of the outside world" or "bad influences from school" and a
whole lot to do with the atmosphere at home.... and very little to do
with how "frum" the atmosphere at home was, but a lot more to do with
how happy, warm, and loving it was.


From: Dovi Jacobs <dovijacobs@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 06:36:51 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Online Aruch Hashulchan for Hilchos Yom Tov

As we approach Chodesh Elul and the chagim, I am pleased to announce
that the online Aruch HaShulchan is now complete for Hilchos Yom Tov and
Chol ha-Moed (Orach Chaim simanim 495-548). This is in addition to
Hilchos Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkah & Lulav (simanim 581-669)
which were already complete last year.

I want to emphasize that this online edition, besides being freely
available to all, is also the most readable and user-friendly edition of
the Aruch HaShulchan ever produced in any format, in print or
electronic.  This is in terms of its editing & formatting (full
punctuation, abbreviations fully expanded, division into smaller
paragraphs), correction of typos, simple and convenient navigation, and
in its range of options for viewing and printing small sections or whole
blocks of halachos (e.g. "Hilchos Sukkah," can be formatted to the
reader's desire and sent to the printer in a single click).

At this point, the entire third chelek of Orach Chaim on the chagim is
complete with the exception of Hilchos Pesach (which I had hoped to
finish by this past Pesach but only did about a quarter of the
material).  The already completed sections include Hilchos Rosh Chodesh,
Yom Tov, Chol ha-Moed, Tisha be-Av, Taanis, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur,
Sukkah, Lulav, Chanukkah, and Megillah.

I plan IYH to complete Hilchos Pesach in the coming months, and then to
continue with various halachos from Yoreh Deah. At the present rate, it
looks like doing the entire third chelek of Orach Chaim will have taken
roughly 1.5 years (starting in Sivan 5766), but now all of that material
is permanently available. Personally, I find editing these simonim to be
a way to keep up with modest but steady study of practical halochah, a
meaningful kind of Talmud Torah that at the very same time leaves
something of lasting value for all. Others are welcome to join in.

To make use of this material for learning halachah, go directly to the
full Orach Chaim index found at this link:


Basic information on the texts:

These are typed digital versions of the simonim that may be copied,
pasted, printed, used or adapted freely for any purpose. They can be
used for personal study, chavrusah, halochoh shiurim and in schools.

You can call up one siman at a time, or view all of "Hilchos Lulav" (for
instance) together on a single page. There is even a "printer friendly"
version available by clicking on "girsah le-hadpasah" in the toolbox on
the right margin, so you can send the entire "Hilchos Lulav" to the
printer with a single click.

The online text is based on the original printed edition, but has new,
additional features:
 *  The abbreviations (roshei tevos) have been fully expanded;
 *  Full punctuation has been added;
 *  The text has been divided into smaller paragraphs (within the
 *  Citations within the text (from Shas, Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch)
    are indented;
 *  The navigation bar and the indices to simonim (e.g. the Orach Chaim
    index) are extremely easy to understand and use;
 *  Thousands of links have been added within the text.
 *  Accuracy: Obvious typos in the original edition of Aruch HaShulchan
    are corrected in the text using brackets [] and parenthesis (), while
    less certain corrections can be documented and discussed on talk
 *  Imperfections: Should you find a mistake (e.g. a typo or mistaken
    puctuation) when you study these texts, there is no need to "live
    with" the error. Instead you can correct it yourself directly, and
    your correction will be reviewed by experienced proofreaders.
    Similarly, any software feature in need of improvement (such as
    navigation or layout) or can also be improved upon directly.
 *  Availability: These Torah texts are available immediately, directly
    and freely to anyone with internet access, and can be easily &
    conveniently printed for those without internet access.
 *  Freedom: These Torah texts may be freely used, copied, adapted, or
    improved for any purpose based on an open-content license. (That
    license obviously only covers this edition's new features, while the
    text of the Aruch HaShulchan itself in its original edition is
    completely in the public domain.)
These features enhance the readability of the text and facilitate
comprehension in ways beyond what is available in any other currently
available edition of the Aruch HaShulchan, whether in print or

Tables of Contents:
 *  Orach Chaim: http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:OCH (text exists for
    the last third plus several other simonim)
 *  Yoreh Deah: http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/AHS:YD (no text yet)
Besides just using these texts for your own Torah study, feel free to
improve and correct them as well! You are even invited to add more
simonim on your own. Two of the website's main contributors have
professional experience with editing Torah texts and/or proofreading, and
we are happy to help others contribute as well.

Please be makdish your learning of halachah from these texts in the
zechus of Israel's wounded and captive soldiers, for acheni kol beis
yisrael in poverty, sickness or distress (among them Rivkah bas
Tirtsel), and the strength and peace of all Israel.



End of Volume 55 Issue 34